Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review of The Florida Project

Another feel-bad film, this time about Halley, a young single mum living in a clapped-out motel in Florida, near to Disneyland and the all-inclusive resorts around it. It's full of low-paid workers and welfare recipients, scraping by in through casual work in the fast-food joints. Halley doesn't do this; she deals drugs, re-sells cheap perfume that she buys from cash-and-carry outlets, and works as an occasional prostitute using a mobile app to market herself. While she is with a customer she leaves her daughter shut in the motel room's bathroom, with the music turned up loud.

Halley's daughter, and the other motel resident kids she runs with, are the focus of the film. In some ways they have a childhood that's a bit like the golden age of running wild that older people sometimes refer to; the kids explore the entire neighbourhood more or less unsupervised. Nothing really bad happens to them, though they do set fire to a derelict motel, and are exposed to a creepy old guy who might have been about to do something abusive.

The film is very acutely observed, even though it isn't particularly moralistic or judgmental. It sets out the bleakness of American life at the near-bottom (yes, there are rungs below this one). On the other hand it's obvious that Halley is crap at life and that things will end badly for her and her daughter. Others are managing their awful and hopeless poverty better than she is, and try to keep their kids away from her daughter less they be sucked in to her way of life.Whether it'll end up any better for them is not clear.

Watched at Lansdown Film Club.

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